Twins belt six homers, set MLB single-season record and still fall to Tigers
Detroit — Really, all Matthew Boyd could do afterward was smile. It wasn't necessarily a happy smile, more of an amused smile.
"It's still August and they set the home run record," he said. "Kind of crazy."
Crazy doesn't even begin to describe this one.
The Minnesota Twins hit six home runs Saturday night, four of them off Boyd. With a month left in the season, they have set a new MLB single-season home run record with 268, bettering the previous mark of 267 set last season by the Yankees.
But when the dust cleared, the Tigers won the game, beating the Twins, 10-7, and snapping a six-game losing skid.
"That was probably the most intense four-run game I've ever been in in my life, including the playoffs," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It was a little more exciting that you'd like it. They don't get base hits, they get home runs.
"You don't feel comfortable."
The Twins tied the home run record in the eighth inning on a 450-footer to the second row of shrubs in center field by Nelson Cruz. Mitch Garver's second blast of the evening in the ninth broke it.
"It's the way the game is now," Boyd said, referencing the souped-up baseballs being bashed around big-league ballparks this season. "This is the hand we're dealt. We just throw the ball. We can't do much about what they give you to put in your hand.
"Hats off to them, though. I made mistakes and they hit home runs."
Again, the smile creased his face.
"What can you do?" he said. "The Yankees set the record last year early and that got broke in August this year. That's the way the game is now. Just have to roll with it."
Boyd, who also struck out 11, has now allowed an MLB-most 36 home runs this season and a single-season record 23 at Comerica Park.
It’s been an odd year for the Tigers’ ace, to say the least. According to MLB.com, Boyd is the first pitcher since 1962 (Phillies' Art Mahaffey) to strike out 11, give up four homers and win the game.
"I made a few mistakes and they hit a few home runs," Boyd said. "Nothing out of the ordinary. They set the record, right? That's what they do. But we won."
After getting knocked around by playoff contending teams the last two-plus weeks, the Tigers finally hit back. Ronny Rodriguez knocked in five runs and belted a pair of home runs — his 12th and 13th.
"I've been working really hard in the cages because I know I can help this team when I get rolling," Rodriguez said postgame on FSD. "I'm seeing the ball great and I'm making things happen. It's El Felino time!"
The Tigers seized control of this one by sending 12 batters to the plate in a season-high seven-run third inning. Eight straight hitters reached base against Twins starter Martin Perez. Victor Reyes, who had three hits in the game, had the first and last hit in the rally.
Miguel Cabrera, who had two hits and scored twice, swatted an RBI double and then trotted home on a two-run home run by Rodriguez. Willi Castro, John Hicks and Reyes also had RBI hits in the inning.
"Ronny is a swinger," Gardenhire said. "When you swing like that and let her fly, there's a chance that if they get one in the zone just enough, he's going to hit it a long way. He brings it every day.
"We need him to swing. That's why I put him in the cleanup spot. We need someone there who will let it fly."
Boyd took the mound in the fourth inning with a six-run lead. He had already given up solo home runs to Garver (on the third pitch of the game) and Max Kepler. He punched out the side in the fourth and got the first two outs in the fifth.
Then he walked Garver and gave up a two-run home run to Jorge Polanco.
Then with two outs in the sixth, he gave up a solo home run to C.J. Cron. He left after six innings with an 8-5 lead.
All four home runs came off Boyd's four-seam fastball. Of his 110 pitches, 57 of them were four-seamers. Ten of those were put in play by the Twins with an average exit velocity of 100.6 mph. And yet, Boyd also got eight swing and misses and nine called strikes with the pitch.
"Right pitches but not executed," said Boyd, who earned his first win since July 4. "If I get it where I want to, I don't know what's going to happen, but I feel like I put myself in a better position to have success."
Rodriguez's second homer came in the sixth against Cody Stashak and it re-established a five-run lead. And if you thought the Tigers were going to get the last six outs with no further drama, you have not been watching this team this season.
Buck Farmer gave up the monster home run to Cruz then a double to Eddie Rosario. He then struck out the next three hitters, but the last, Jake Cave, reached first when the third strike bounced away from catcher Hicks.
After Farmer walked Kepler to load the bases, Gardenhire brought in right-hander Jose Cisnero.
The Twins countered with left-handed pinch-hitter Luis Arraez. A terrific eight-pitch battle ensued. Cisnero fell behind 3-1 and then Arraez fouled off three straight 96-mph fastballs.
On the eighth pitch of that at-bat, Cisnero froze Arraez with the last pitch he expected — a slider. Home plate umpire Carlos Torres called the borderline pitch a strike and the threat was over.
"When he let it go, I was like — well, I can't tell you what I said,'" said Gardenhire chuckling. "But it scared the crap out of me, let me put it that way."
Hicks called for the slider and Cisnero didn't blink.
"I know I've thrown sliders in 3-2 counts before in the Dominican Republic and had success with it," Cisnero said through interpreter Carlos Guillen. "I had trust in myself and I just threw it."
Garver's second homer came off the first pitch in the ninth by closer Joe Jimenez, who settled down and got the final three outs.
"We pumped our fists when Cisnero got that out and we pumped our fist when Joe got the last out," Gardenhire said. "We need more of these moments. We've had some of these moments on the road where the games were very intense.
"But we've got to bring that here every day. Our fans deserve that after what they've seen. Hopefully we can do that more often."